Dakar Rally 2019: Michael, Santosh and Mena Break Into Top 20; Aravind Finishes 70th In Stage 1

The first stage of the 2019 Dakar Rally saw Sherco TVS' Michael Metge lead finishing 12th, while Hero's Oriol Mena is in top form finishing 14th. Indian riders CS Santosh and Aravind KP completed the stage in 20th and 70th places respectively.

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CS Santosh in the Dunes of Peru during Stage 1 of the 2019 Dakar Rally

It was a steady start for the Indian contingent at the 2019 Dakar Rally at the end of Stage 1. The riders managed travelled from Lima to Pisco, a 247 km, including 84 km of the competitive section. Both Sherco TVS Rally Team and Hero MotoSports Team Rally completed the opening stage with all the riders coming to Pisco without any incident. Sherco TVS' Michael Metge though turned out to be the fastest of the riders finishing 12th finishing +6min and 49s off the race leader Joan Barreda of Honda. Hero's Oriol Mena, who was crowned rookie of the year in 2018, is off to a good start too and finished 14th on Day 1.

Speaking about the first stage, TVS' Michael Metge said, "A difficult first stage, it took a lot of time to adapt to the bike but little by little I felt better and better and i have confidence in the future."

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Michael Metge leads the Indian contingent finishing 12th in Stage 1

Oriol Mena said, "Good Day today overall except for a small incident where I overlooked a small hole on the other side of the first dune and had a touchdown. Well that's how this Dakar has started for me, but I am safely back at the bivouac and that's what matters. Tomorrow will be another day."

Hero's CS Santosh also managed to break into top 20, finishing 20th, setting a good pace for the days to come. Speaking on his experience on Day 1, Santosh said, "First day out of the books. I had butterflies in the beginning but it is always like this with the first stage of the Dakar. After the riverbed, there was a lot of dust but I got into my own rhythm. I am very happy to bring the bike home in the first stage and hopefully, this will continue in the next stages as well."

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Joaquim Rodrigues finished 23rd at the end of Stage 1 +10min 14s off stage leader

Hero's Joaquim Rodrigues had a more cautious approach for Stage 1, having survived a major injury sustained during the first stage last year. Nevertheless, JRod finished 23rd overall at the end of the day finishing +10min and 14s over the race leader. Speaking on his comeback, Rodrigues said, "Today was an emotional stage for me. Honestly, I was a little bit nervous starting today, as this was the same stage where I had crashed last year. So I rode tight today, may be even breaking too much at times to be on the safer side.  But I am happy to see the first stage behind me and now I can focus on getting into a good rhythm in the next few stages."

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Adrien Metge finished 24th in Stage 1, followed by Lorenzo Santolino in 25th place

Sherco TVS' Adrien Metge finished 24th followed by Lorenzo Santolino in 25th place. Speaking on his performance for the day, Adrien said, "I am very happy with the bike, it is working well, I managed to catch up with the riders in front of me, this race is long!" It was a similar situation for Santolino, "The prologue went off well, I'm getting to know Dakar. Second stage is a challenging one. We'll know more about what we're facing but I feel good," he said.

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Aravind KP finished 70th at the end of Stage 1

Aravind KP had a challenging start with navigational concerns on Day 1 and finished a distant 70th over his teammates. He said, "It was difficult to read the course on the first part of the stage! But I felt much better on the second part. A good day for me and I hope to learn more and improve every day all the way till the finish line." With the rider have dropped out in the previous two editions after sustaining injuries, the finish line is the target for Aravind this year.

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Stage 2 will be the first long stage of the 2019 Dakar Rally with riders travelling from Pisco to San Juan de Marcona. The riders will be tacklin 211 km of liasion and 342 km of the special stage.

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